update on the year
Hey everyone, I realize I have not been writing much on my experiences, I believe the reason for this is because I have been taking everything in and trying to learn from the athletes around me who are more accomplished and knowlegable. Yet, I have learned a lot and I look to cover some of these key points here after I explain what I have been doing recently.
To start, I want to point out a small fact of life and set a goal for all of us. Since it is the holidays and we see many people we haven't seen in awhile, the inevitable talk of how we are doing comes up. Almost everyone I have talked to immiedately says they are doing great and everything is going well. This bothered me because it pointed out the fact that our society urges us to not admit we our doing well and to not be honest with others. So my goal is to be honest and admit how we are doing. The following report will detail what I have gone through and if nothing else ,I hope it encourages people to be a little more willing to admit how they are doing.
After Kona, I experienced an interesting time in my life. I became much more in tune with my internal world and became aware of my limitations, my strengths, the things that made me happy and sad, and generally just who I am as a person. I think this is due primarily to the darkness one has to face in order to finish Kona. it pushes one so far that they learn more about who and what they are. So what did I figure out?
I saw that I had gotten away from who I really was. In terms of triathlon I had lost a lot of the fun from it and was doing it primarily to get better as opposed to for enjoyment and the pursuit of self-knowledge and betterment. I also saw that I had let triathlon consume my personal life to a point where I became less sensitive to what was going on around me. Ultimately, I found that I was less happy than I had been before and had shifted my life from a point of being process orientated to outcome oriented. All of these changes which I had not realized hit me at once and lead me to decide that I needed to start living my life differently.
I started by taking a few days off from training to re-vamp my interest. I then had to make a hard decision about continuing with my coach for the next year. Ultimately, I decided not to for both financial and life reasons. In terms of training, I have been trying to do what my body really feels like doing and not forcing myself to do anything. I have found this brings the enjoyment back into it and allows me to get better at the same time. This was about getting back to me, I love to be outside and push my body to the limits but it had become forced and simply by taking the mind aspect out of it (e.g. only going to get better, always thinking about my future as a triathlete, thinking about how I was doing in the workout, thinking about sponsors, etc) I found that I slowly became more happy and wanted to train more. I have become more in touch with my body and most importantly when I train I can think about the beautiful outdoors or deeper questions of human meaning and existence.
I utilized a similar technique in my academic life. I wanted to become more process orientated and in order to do this I needed to be studying subjects I truly loved. I lowered my stress level in school by deciding not to do a double major, at least for a little while, and registered for classes next semester that I am truly interested in. However, I also told myself I was only going to study when I felt like it. At first, I never wanted to study but then I realized I was studying because I wanted to learn the material and not merely receive a good grade. I did this by starting to create a network of association between what I learn in school and what I learn in life. I realized I had been studying my subjects independently of all my other knowledge. By combing what I learn(ed) in physics, chemistry, psychology, philosophy, and everything else I was able to marvel at how things work and reignite my curiosity.
The third step I took was to eliminate anything I realized was making me unhappy and to relearn the joy in little things. In other words I had to slow down. In many ways this goal-to slow down and be more patient-was related to my Kona experience. I took notice that the reason I had a poor race at Kona was because I couldn't be patient and slow down. The high energy of the race and my impatience is what lead me to improper pacing on the the bike. I didn't allow myself to slow down enough to have a great marathon and a successful race. I would also like to say that because I was outcome oriented at Kona, when I got the bike penalty, I was unable to get in the zone and lost touch with my self. Back to the story, I simply tried to make time in my day to enjoy little things such as waking up and having breakfast, tying my shoes before a run, and when you get to see a beautiful sunrise. I also looked to control my brain when I got stressed out such as when I was driving, or frustrated by my inability to solve my homework problems . I tried to gain some control of my mental state. I also cut out things such as TV and excessive time spent on social media.
Thus, this has been my journey recently: getting my life back to who I am (and want to be), learning to be process orientated, and striving to push myself to new limits. A final point I will make for those of us that are triathletes out there; is that Ironman is truly a reflection of who and what we are. In an Ironman race the mental aspect matters equal if not more than the physical aspect. The long hours spent training are not ultimately meant to merely better your body but to force yourself to ask the big questions of life such as what is my purpose, who do I want to become, how do I triumph over my own insecurities and faults, and any other pressing questions. This is both the path I have been trying hard to get back on track and is the reasons I ultimately do Ironmans.